Recently we have started building a relationship with a school and rescue center not far from where we live in Nairobi. It’s called StarKids Academy and Rescue Center. It’s referred to as a slum school because most if not all the students that attend the school are either from the slums or far away villages. As the name implies, it is more that just a school but also a “rescue center” which means over half of the students who attend live on site. There are several reasons many of the students live on site. They may live far from the school out in one of the villages where decent education can be challenging to acquire or because their parents would have no way to get them back and forth to school so it is easier if they just live there. However, the school also has a large population of students who without the school would have nowhere else to go. They may be orphans, have an abusive family situation, or just don’t have families that can support them. Truly this place is a rescue center.
The school is run by a former teacher and administrator Ms. Roslyn. I have absolutely enjoyed all the time I have spent with her. She loves the children in her care, and it shows. We have been to every classroom at this point and every class we go into the students are always very polite and hard at work. They are receiving an excellent education in an environment that is far from perfect. Remember, this is slum school which means wood and steal walls and ceilings, they in fact just got concrete floors in the last few years. The rooms are hot and stuffy and clay dust that permeates in the slums is everywhere. But the students are happy to be there and desire to learn.
Ms. Roslyn told us a story about how a lady had brought blankets for the children, in Kenya they are called Shuka’s, you may have seen them. They are bright colorful blankets that are also used as tunics in East Africa. So, this lady brought the blankets for the children and two of the boys snuck two out and sold them so they could buy some mandazis. Mandazis are similar to a beignets without the powdered sugar. If really made well, they are super light and almost hollow on the inside and people can fill them with jam or whatever. We just eat them plain. They are my favorite Kenyan food. Now because the school literally doesn’t have a lot, a couple of blankets going missing was noticed quickly. Also, because everyone knows everything in the community it wasn’t long before Ms. Roslyn knew everything too. However, instead of punishing the boys and expelling them she gave them an opportunity to confess and were ultimately forgiven. Now if this isn’t the very definition of Grace, I don’t know what is.
Near the school is a nice sized field which the community works hard to maintain because areas like that is the slums are rare. In the afternoons it’s filled with people from the community playing football (soccer) but during the morning hours it’s a great place for the students to play. We took some of our camp games and went and spent a long-time playing group games. It was so fun to play with these amazing kids. After we got back to the school, we had brought juice for everyone and continued our tour of the school. We were taken back into the dorms where the children stay. They were bunk beds floor to ceiling, in a few places 4 high. Every bit of space in the room was used. Then we saw what these clever, fun, kids were sleeping on. They are like mattress pads but were old and rotting. Some had holes all the way through so the children were sleeping on iron bars. Immediately I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me and say, “you have to do something”.